Parental Leave

MECA FAQs – Parental Leave

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Clause 23.0 (pages 32 to 34 of your MECA).

Normal annual leave is paid at the greater of either your ordinary weekly pay or your average earnings over the previous 12 months. However, annual leave accrued while you are on parental leave is a little different – it is paid out at your average earnings over the previous 12 months. While you are on parental leave you are not working, and therefore your ‘average’ decreases; therefore, although you still accrue annual leave whilst on parental leave, it will be paid out at a lower rate. There is no requirement for you to use your annual leave prior to taking parental leave. However, it is suggested that you do if possible, and delay taking annual leave after parental leave for as long as possible.

Parental leave is generally unpaid leave (it does not constitute sick leave) but you are entitled to one of two payments: the first, a lump sum payment as per MECA and the second, paid parental leave under the legislation (the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987).

You are entitled to take up to 12 months leave if you have had at least one years service at the time of commencing the leave or leave of up to 6 months with less than one years service. Moving DHBs is considered continuous for this as long as you do not break service for more than a month between moves. (Note: this does not currently include RMOs employed by the RNZCGP but we are lobbying to get this changed).

So, if you have been employed at Nelson Marlborough DHB and then move on to Southern DHB your service for the request to have been in employment a minimum of 6 or 12 months to get access to the financial entitlement.

You will need to make your application for parental leave at least one month before you intend to commence your parental leave, bearing in mind babies are not always born on their due dates. This application will need to be supported by a certificate signed by a registered medical practitioner or midwife.

When you return from parental leave you are entitled to resume work in the same or similar position that you had at the time you commenced parental leave. This means equivalent salary and designation in the same or close locality comparable with those of the position previously occupied. Annual salary increments continue to apply in the same way as if you had not taken parental leave (i.e. you continue to move up the salary scale).

Having being granted parental leave you will need to notify the employer in writing of your intention to return to work (or to resign) at least one month prior to parental leave expiring.

The MECA provides for you to be able to limit your hours of work during your pregnancy. You can reduce your hours as follows:

  1. From 28 weeks of pregnancy (or earlier if considered medically appropriate by the employee’s lead maternity carer), no night shifts shall be worked;
  2. From 32 weeks of pregnancy (or earlier if considered medically appropriate by the employee’s lead maternity carer), no long days in excess of 10 hours shall be worked;
  3. From 36 weeks of pregnancy (or earlier if considered medically appropriate by the employee’s lead maternity carer), no acute clinical workload shall be allocated.

Note: if you do reduce your hours as above, your salary shall be reduced in a manner agreed between you and your employer on a case by case basis.

There are two payment options open to you regarding payment whilst on parental leave. Either, 1. After you have completed a further six calendar months’ service you shall be entitled to a payment equivalent to six weeks’ leave on pay or 2. if you are receiving government paid parental leave you can choose to be paid the 6 week lump sum in instalments over 14 weeks (note: the primary (legislative) entitlement for paid parental leave rests with the primary carer – this is the person who assumes care of the child – generally the birth mother.

(For more information regarding the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Paid Parental Leave please visit

Yes – if you are on parental leave you can stay a member of the RDA. If you choose to do so it is important to contact us (at and let us know of your impending parental leave. You can put the payment of your subs on hold for up to a year whilst you are on leave but need to notify us when you will be returning to work.

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